Royersford man wins burrito contest

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - September 18, 2009 Shoudt, of Royersford, Pa., finished just ahead of runner-up Hall "Hoover" Hunt of Jacksonville, Fla., who put down 30 burritos in the International Federation of Competitive Eating-sponsored contest.

Shoudt, who won $1,500, said he didn't eat for two days to prepare for the competition. Competitors ate 4-ounce burritos, filled with beef, beans and green chile - each weighing about a quarter of a pound.

The 15 competitors paced during a brief delay as organizers made room to fit everyone on a stage. Plates stacked with four burritos were placed at each chair along with several plastic water bottles.

Once the timer's stopwatch was set, Spanish music started playing on a loudspeaker and the eaters chowed down.

They frantically shoved burritos into their mouths, cheeks puffed like chipmunks, as a crowd of about 250 people roared with laughter and cheers.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life," said Dolores Lucero, 53, of Albuquerque, who watched the spectacle with her three young grandchildren. "When they really picked it up, and you could see the liquid and food dripping out of their mouths, that was pretty disgusting."

Lucy Jojola, a 70-year-old retired school employee, served as a volunteer judge and had a place to stand on stage. Her job was to make sure the eaters followed rules, but she couldn't hold back her enthusiasm.

"I would pat them on their backs and say, 'Come on! One more! One more! I know you can do it," she said.

The 300 burritos were provided by Albuquerque restaurant Garcia's Kitchen. Co-owner Steve Garcia showed his spirit by wearing an oversized burrito-shaped hat.

Yes, there really is an International Federation of Competitive Eating. This was the 14th contest on the Major League Eating Circuit in September alone.

Next up? Hunt and Shoudt planned to fly out Friday night to compete in a grits eating contest in Louisiana. Major League Eating's top-ranked eater is Joey Chestnut, and the 42-year-old Shoudt recently defeated the world champion at a chili spaghetti eating contest.

Shoudt also has eaten 35 beef brisket sandwiches in 10 minutes and 39 hamburgers in two minutes in past contests.

Many competitors at the New Mexico stop were locals from Albuquerque but others came from California, Missouri and Wisconsin.

"I try to get into a groove early on, but I didn't get off to as fast of a start today as I would have liked," Shoudt said. "But I kept pace and that's the most important thing. The local guys really pushed me, and I like being pushed."

Shoudt said he wasn't expecting the New Mexico green chile inside the burritos to be so spicy.

"I don't eat peppers and they were rough on me today," he said.


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